The Making of a Plum-Perfect Honey Cake

Photograph by Liza Schoenfein

I’ve had honey cake on the brain lately. I know: Haven’t we all?

But I can say with confidence that I’ve been more immersed in honey-cake contemplation than the average Jewish woman approaching the High Holy Days.

Not only did I just interview Rose Levy Beranbaum about her glorious version of this Rosh Hashanah classic — the recipe is here — but I was also recently tasked with developing a gluten-free honey cake. And I went through several failed attempts before coming up with one I could be proud of, a cake that was moist and not too sweet, which involved a combination of regular gluten-free flour and lovely, flavorful almond meal.

So there’s been a lot of honey cake happening in my kitchen these days.

This week I spied gorgeous Italian plums at the farmer’s market, and greedily gathered them up, thinking I’d turn them into a dessert called Purple Plum Crunch, which was a late-summer favorite in our house when I was growing up. The plums were delicious, and over the last few days, as eager hands snatched them from the bowl, I watched the mountain I brought home dwindle down to a small hill.

Meanwhile, I realized that while I had had every intention of making a honey cake for the holiday, I was suddenly rather bored with the idea. I had honey-cake ennui.

But then I got an idea: What if I cooked the remaining Italian plums right into an adaptation of my most successful gluten-free take on the cake? The plums and honey and almond flour would be a beautiful combination, and the tartness of the fruit would balance the sweetness of the cake.

And so I did. And it was awesome. Here you go, a little new year’s recipe, developed just last night. Try it while the plums are still in season.

Liza Schoenfein is the new food editor of the Forward. Contact her at

The Making of a Plum-Perfect Honey Cake

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